Building the Great Society

It’s Wacky Wednesday here at Macsbooks, where anything goes as far as reviews. I have a pile of unread non-fiction, politically bent books that I feel I need to work my way through, one of which is Building the Great Society: Inside Lyndon Johnson’s White House.


“We have the opportunity to move, not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the Great Society.” Lyndon Johnson

I find that reading and reviewing books about recent history often is difficult for two reasons: not enough time has passed since the events themselves and our own opinions and thoughts about the event cloud our judgement. Keeping both of those things in mind, I found “Building the Great Society” to be a thoroughly documented, well written synopsis of Lyndon Johnson’s inner sanctum, his dealings with Congress at the time and ultimately what became his legacy – The Great Society Legislation.

Johnson was not a favorite president, he wasn’t even well liked at the time. He gets blamed, often, for the US involvement in Vietnam and, to an extent rightly so since it was during his tenure that the war escalated. However, this book is not about foreign policy and the Vietnam War gets very little coverage. This is about Johnson’s domestic policy for which he is not given nearly enough credit.

It is important to remember that one of the most popular presidents had been assassinated, the world, including the US, was rushing head-long into a civil rights movement that was growing more violent by the day, and the Cold War had been escalated by both Eisenhower and the USSR. All of this was placed on Johnson’s shoulders with the death of Kennedy. Building the Great Society walks us through the various pieces of legislation that, quite literally, put a grieving country back together again and through its expansion into social programs helped, not only the poor, the African Americans, but introduced the first vestiges of rights for women. As hard as it is to imagine or remember, prior to the 1960s, women were not allowed to have their own bank accounts, own their own property without having a man – husband, father, uncle – SOME MALE – cosign with them. When we think of domestic policy in the 60s, the very basic human rights that we take for granted today, simply did not exist then. Sadly, far too many Americans assume those rights always have and always will exist for all. Clearly, they have not and will not.

I never was a fan of Johnson when I was younger. It is only recently – visiting his library, reading books such as this one – that I have come to understand his, and his wife’s, contribution to America. Whether you like him or not, know nothing about his presidency or simply would like to know more, I highly recommend Building the Great Society. It is a thorough and unbiased look at the Johnson years.

Much appreciation to the author, Joshua Zeitz, #Netgalley and #Penguin-Viking Press for my copy of this book.



The Magic Garden

It’s Wacky Wednesday here at Macsbooks, the day for the unusual or seldom read books. But – this week I have a wonderful gem for you: The Magic Garden by Lemniscates.


The author and illustrator, Lemniscates, creates each of her books as a complete piece of work. The writing and illustrations act as a whole for her and she does it all herself. This is quite rare in the world of children’s literature and the result is breathtaking.


The story itself is one of simplicity – slow down, don’t rush, take time to see the world around you. This is an important lesson for kids as well as for their parents, as we rush to and fro, and both will enjoy this tale. Chloe rushes out her door each day on her way to her many activities, through her beautiful garden and down the path, never stopping to see the beauty around her. But on this day, the trees speak to her and tell her to stop, take time to see the magic around her for there is, indeed, magic all around – from leaves that change from green to red, caterpillars that become butterflies, bees that create honey and so much more.

Rarely am I moved to tears by a children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbit comes to mind, but this book was so beautiful, so well written and so incredibly brilliant that I found myself in a puddle of tears with goosebumps on my arms no less. What is even more wonderful – yes, it gets better – is that at the back of the book there is an easy to understand scientific explanation for ALL of the magical principles that Chloe discovers in her garden. I mean, seriously, does a book get any better than this? No, I don’t think so! On top of that, the illustrations are luscious, colorful, amazing. I shared them with a child next door and they were mesmerized by them so I know that, well, I have the mind of a child. NO! That the illustrations are perfection!

What a wonderful, must read book for ALL ages, from birth to 99!


Many thanks to Edelweiss and The Quarto Group for my copy – eternal gratitude for a marvelous book!